Dad and/or Support Person it is your time to shine!
With the new law in effect as of today, I will unfortunately not be able to attend a few of my births, however I want to ensure you still have those priceless memories captured forever.
So what am I going to do?
Dear Dads, Best Friends, Grandparents, Nurses, Moms, and all those who will be attending a birth as a Support Person!
Sit tight, strap in and keep your legs and arms inside the cart at all time because I am about to give you a crash course in birth photography.
Talk to her!
First things first, you need to know exactly what your significant other is wanting for her birth story.
I promise she has an idea of what she is wanting and has already been through this at our consult. This will give you a good general idea of what I was planning to deliver to her and can help you map out a plan of action.
- If you have camera, then that is great! If not then I promise she will be just as happy with you using your cellphone.
- Please don't use portrait mode on your cellphone!
- If you have a DSLR camera ready to use or can borrow one from someone and would like to attempt full on photographer role then I am here for all the questions on how to achieve settings fast for a beginner. I also have tips on this at the very bottom of this blog.
- If you would like and are shooting with a camera, I would be more than happy to edit the images for you at no cost as I know my clients come to me for many things and one is my specific signature edit. Just let me know, I have way too much time on my hands and would be more than happy to help.
- Get all the details! I cannot stress this enough! Get images of the belly bands, the monitors, her smiling, her having a contraction, her face when baby first cries, babies feet, fingers, ears, nose.....get all of those little moments.
- Focus on her during labor. I know this one may be tricky but a quick snap of her face when she first sees or hears your little one is a moment she will cherish forever!
- Ask a nurse to grab some photos during the delivery that shows you helping her, and for some of you after the delivery holding baby as well as all three of you together. I'm pretty sure no nurse would turn you down if you ask nicely.
- Don't get to worried about it being perfect or too caught up in the moment. she wants you present and she knows you are doing a job that's completely new to you. We don't expect you to be an expert, after over 100 births I am still nowhere near an expert and I learn something new every single day. The most important thing to remember is the imperfect shots are still perfect in her eyes because you took them.
- You can do this!
What about posing?
This is so simple... you don't!
You don't have to worry about posing at all and actually the most successful birth images are the candids that show real and raw emotion. You will want to move yourself while keeping mind of those around you to ensure good lighting however. I always tell my students the most important thing to take with you for a birth other than your camera is a small step stool! This can help you in being elevated to capture the shots from above. Birth is a marathon, not a sprint....let us see the struggle. Get images of the entire team as well...not just of mom. This means the drs and nurses who are helping in this amazing moment.
Just remember capturing those emotions as they flow through you is what makes up your birth story.
So don't be afraid to get some of the baby with blood, vernix, or even the stuff you might be confused on as to why anyone in the world would want it photographed.
And don't delete any of the images! Even though you may think she wont like it or you feel she may think she looks unflattering....I promise in that moment she doesn't care what she looks like because she giving life to her little one and that is more beautiful than anything.
How can I practice before the big day?
I highly recommend practicing before the day however I know this is not an option for some.
The biggest challenge in birth photography is working with low lighting so try practicing with your camera in your bedroom with the overhead lights off. Place a few lamps here and there and practice shooting the bed, or a stuffed animal. If she is willing, you can even have mom sit on the bed and have a fun maternity boudoir shoot....Dad don't act like you have never thought of it lol, I am giving you full permission sir because you kinda do need the practice anyway right.
Should I use flash?
No, or at least avoid flash whenever possible. Most cameras have a mode to shoot in auto without flash, this is the mode I recommend you to use unless you would like to try manual mode. Flash is very disruptive to the laboring mother, and typically renders harsh shadows and too bright highlights causing the images to be very hard to recover. Professional birth photographers such as myself use what is called a speedlight attached to top of our camera, this allows us to control the intensity of our flash and to bounce our flash from behind us when needed as to not disturb the laboring mother.
I'm shooting with my phone, how should I prepare?
The most important thing when shooting with your phone is to remember to have enough free space!
So all of those music apps, podcasts, and games on your phone should be backed up and removed ahead of time to give room for the large influx of images you will be taking.
And please please please I beg of you....do not forget to charge your phone! Bring your charger along with you as well and keep your phone plugged up whenever you are not using it!
Tips for shooting a birth in manual mode on a DSLR
- First off make sure your battery is fully charged, have the charger with you, and make sure you have a SD card inserted!
- Go to settings and you should see an option to change your format from jpeg to raw, switch it to raw....especially if you would like to have me edit the images for you.
- Check the dial at the top and you should see a bunch of different settings...find the M or manual mode.
- You can do a fast google of your camera model to find an easier tip on location of menu, toggle, dials and how to change the setting...literally takes a few minutes at most.
- Look into your view as if you were to take a photo and you will see some numbers. You will have your aperture which will be either f/(a number) or f-(a number), your shutter speed which an example would be 1/100..
- Turn the toggle to get the aperture number all the way down as possible...most lenses will only allow a f3.5 which is fine.
- Next turn the toggle to get your shutter speed up! I recommend using atleast 1/125 but no more than 1/200
- Take a photo and check to see if it is too bright or too dark!
- Majority of the time the image will be dark and you will need to locate on your menu your iso...the iso will be on the lowest option if you have not changed it and you will need to move it up. Try 400 and take a photo, then try 800 and take a photo...once you have a well exposed image and it is not too dark and not too bright you are set.
- as you move around or move from room to room such as delivery room to the O.R, you will need to take another test image to check for exposure on the image, if the image is too bright...this happens mostly when moving into an or...all you have to do is fine that toggle and move up your shutter speed.
- Keep checking throughout to ensure the images are in focus and exposed properly.
- If you would like to use the auto option on your camera then that is perfectly fine....please know that direct flash is very harsh lighting and can cause a make it or break it moment in an image quickly.....try to make sure the camera does not try and have the flash pop up especially during delivery or in an O.R!
- And remember you got this dad! I have faith in you and you are going to do perfect regardless of your use of camera, manual or auto, or even if you choose to use your cellphone! The best images come from the heart and she will cherish them even more than if I was able to attend and photograph the birth myself.